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Modeling the Effects of Outdoor Gasonline Powered Generator Use on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Exposures.

pdf icon Modeling the Effects of Outdoor Gasonline Powered Generator Use on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Exposures. (1082 K)
Wang, L.; Emmerich, S. J.

NIST Technical Note 1637; NIST TN 1637; 23 p. August 2009.


gasoline; carbon monoxide; exposure; generators; computational fluid dynamics; air quality; health hazards; air flow; simulation; poisons; safety; scenarios; power cords; temperature; wind effects; windows; wind velocity; equations


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that up to half of non-fatal CO poisoning incidents during the hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005 involved generators operated outdoors but within seven feet of the home. The guidance provided on the safe operating distance of a generator is often neither specific nor consistent. Furthermore, some generator manufacturers recommend the use of extension cords to be "as short as possible, preferably less than 15 feet long, to prevent voltage drop and possible overheating of wires." However, the use of short extension cords may result in placement of the generator too close to the home to reduce the likelihood of the entry of CO. This study modeled multiple scenarios of a portable generator operated outdoors using the CaNT AM indoor air quality model coupled with a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to predict CO concentrations near and within a home. The simulation cases included both human-controllable factors (e.g., generator location and exhaust direction and window opening size) and non-controllable factors (e.g., wind, temperature, and house dimensions). For the house modeled in this study, a generator positioned 4.6 m (15 feet) away from open windows may not be far enough to limit CO entry into the house. It was also found that winds perpendicular to the open window resulted in more CO infiltration than winds at an angle, and lower wind speed generally led to more CO entry. To reduce CO entry, the generator should ideally be positioned outside of airflow recirculation region near the open windows.